Breaking News: Delaware DOE To Punish Schools Over Opt-Out Rate w/School Report Card, Did NOT Submit This For ESEA Waiver

Delaware DOE, School Accountability System

The Delaware Department of Education will punish schools with high opt-out rates based on their School Report Card.  As found in the below document, the school report card is a new system mandated by the US DOE.  Since last summer, the Accountability Framework Working Group has been meeting to get this going in Delaware.  How this works is a school will receive a grade based on multiple factors: academic, graduation rates, etc.  Whatever their academic score is, the DOE will multiply the assessment participation rate against the score.  So as an example, say Charter School of Wilmington gets a score of 90 for their academics.  If their assessment participation rate overall was at 80%, you would multiply 90 x .8, which would give the school an academic score of 72.

They are doing this under the sly.  They did not include this in what was sent to the US DOE for their ESEA Flex Waiver request, which was approved by the feds in July.  This is just another example of the DOE plotting behind the scenes with superintendents from Delaware school districts and making rules without any stakeholder input.  And even then, they just ignore it.  They do what they want and to hell with the consequences.  Below, you can see the ESEA Waiver Approval letter from the US DOE, which mentions NOTHING about this at all, but the State Board approved this in their March 19th, 2015 meeting, which you can listen to here.

So which superintendents and charter heads are on this group? Mark Holodick, Heath Chasanov, Kevin Fitzgerald, Sally Maldonado, Ed Emmett, and other key district staff.  This is a group that doesn’t publicly announce their meetings from what I can see on the DOE calendar on their website or on the Delaware Public Meeting Calendar.  They are creating rules for schools without ANY public feedback whatsoever.  I knew there was more to this whole school report card thing, and now we have the proof.  This group, at first, did not have any representation from parents or the Delaware State Educators Association, but was later added.  I’m sorry, I love Bill Doolittle with the Delaware PTA, but he cannot be the DOE’s go-to guy every time they need a parent on a group.  That is not TRUE stakeholder input.  They should have a minimum of three parents on any task force, group, committee, or commission.  If not MORE!

How ironic they have NO participation from districts where their board passed an opt-out resolution: Capital, Christina and Red Clay…

Delaware parents, don’t let this sway you from opting your child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment this year.  If you all do it, then it won’t matter what the participation rate was!  School starts this week or next week for most students, so remember, first day, give the principal your REFUSE THE TEST letter!

UPDATED, 2:35pm, 8/25/15: Ryan Reyna with the Delaware DOE published this document for schools to upload into the Accountability Student Verification system, dated 7/27/15…

Delaware Charter School Crowd Needs To Support The Parent Opt Out Bill, Two Major Reasons Why

Parental Opt-Out of Standardized Testing

I’m talking to you Delaware Charter Schools Network, Rodel, Schools That Care, and Publius!  In the next six days, Delaware legislators will be signing on to co-sponsor Kowalko and Lawson’s Parent Opt Out House Bill.  You may even be scratching your head at some of the legislators that will put their name on this.  But it’s going to happen.  This bill will be submitted.

The first reason you need to support this is because it’s a parent’s CHOICE.  I was reminded of this last night by two school board members.  You folks are all about the CHOICE.  You live and die by that one word.  Now it’s time to put your support where your mouth is.  While choosing a school for your child’s education is a CHOICE, so is determining how your child is educated.  It’s a parent’s CHOICE.  If you do not support this bill, we will all know that you don’t truly believe in CHOICE.

The second and more important reason is because of the nature of this bill.  Students who, for various reasons, may not be able to take the test will not count in the proficiency ratings.  This will make your scores go up!  Why is this good, aside from the obvious?  I know you aren’t going to go away.  You are a part of the landscape, and that’s not a bad thing.  But when the ACLU complaint goes forward with the OCR, and they rule on it, you know what’s going to happen.  You will be court-ordered to include more of the minorities, low-income and special education kids in your communities.  By default, test scores will go down.  You will be screaming for parent opt out then, so why not be proactive and do it now!  Many charters in Delaware pride themselves on their academic framework and proficiency ratings.  But when your populations change, and the new School Accountability System kicks in with the letter grades of A-F, your school could very well become the next priority school!

Delaware Schools, Are You Ready To Be Graded A, B, C, D, or F?

School Accountability System

In the move we all saw coming, the Delaware Department of Education is moving ahead with their school grade rating system upon approval of the State Board of Education at their March meeting.  A new article released today by WDDE reporter Larry Nagengast went over the specifics of the upcoming School Accountability System.

This is based on the infamous online survey the DOE conducted last Fall that generated 6500 responses.

Asked about what grading system to use, 46 percent favored letter grades; 32.8 percent favored performance ratings like “distinguished,” “meets expectations” or “on probation”; 13 percent preferred the traffic light and rest preferred symbols.

Many people who looked at the survey felt it was obvious which choices would be picked by respondents and argued the DOE did this on purpose to get the results they already wanted.  Many felt it was just another whitewash of the Delaware public by a state department that has been shrouded in controversy for over a year.

Frederika Jenner, president of the Delaware State Education Association, wasn’t impressed with any of the options. She says she would have preferred “none of the above,” and says many people she spoke with share her opinion.

Even DOE employee Penny Schwinn gave comment for the article:

Schwinn says that at least half of the weighting for Part A will be assigned to measurements of student proficiency and growth – how well they are meeting benchmarks set in the Delaware Comprehensive Assessment System (DCAS) tests, which were phased out last year, and in the new Smarter Balanced assessments, which are being used for the first time this school year. Graduation rates, career readiness, how well the school is closing the achievement gap between its regular population and high-need students, and some school climate data will also be factored into the scoring.

It is obvious from this article these “grades” will be utilized to punish schools that “don’t make the grade” so to speak:

Awards or sanctions based on ratings could take effect in the 2016-17 school year, Schwinn says. The awards could be financial or they could be “less paperwork” required by the state, she says. Schools falling into the bottom grouping could be subject to transformation remedies, like those used for “partnership zone” schools under the recent Race to the Top federal grant and currently being implemented for six “priority schools” in the Red Clay and Christina districts.

I would love to see what they do with this system when parents start opting their child out of the state assessments en masse.  What are you going to do then Mrs. Schwinn?  It also doesn’t look like many members of the Delaware General Assembly are to enamored with the ESEA Flexibility Waivers either…

The full WDDE article can be read here: